Growing up, I had always thought about runners as a separate breed. The concept of running for enjoyment was quite foreign to me, and the peak of my running probably happened in 8th grade, when I was finally able to run an unimpressive 8-minute mile after suffering through a full school year’s worth of weekly mile runs. From adolescence to law school, I didn’t have any memory of lacing up to go anywhere. I just was not one of “those people.”
It was not until law school when I became intrigued by running for the first time. My good friend Willis had competed in cross country at the college level, and he spoke of running with such enthusiasm, love, and conviction that I thought to myself, “maybe there is something to this.” When I told him that I might be interested in running, he volunteered to take me shopping for running shoes. Imagine my shock when he asked me to run in the shoes at the local Lady Foot Locker (?!) – I was definitely the only person doing that and was mortified – and we winnowed the selection down to a pair of hideous shoes with purple and yellow stripes (I know these are Lakers colors, but that was just not enough for me to overcome how ugly the shoes were). Although I could not keep up my consistency in running after graduating, I had broken my mental barrier to at least be able to pose as one of “those people.” (For that I will always be grateful to Willis.)
Since committing to marathon training, which consists primarily of 3 consecutive days of running from Tuesday to Thursday (short/medium/short runs) followed by a long run on Saturday, I noticed that I have had to adjust my lifestyle. If I have a scheduled run the next day (which is pretty much most of the week), I think through my day to figure out how to get it in. If I have lunch plans, I try to get up early to run before work at the nearby Sawyer Camp Trail. If I had a busy day, I plan out a local route after dinner. If I can run during lunch, I pack my clothes for the gym. Most of this, of course, is motivated by panic. I can only imagine the pain of trying to finish a marathon without having trained properly (I’ve heard of people who cannot walk the next day). Swapping tips and encouragement with my sister also helps tremendously, especially since most people would not be interested in hearing my opinion about whether GU gel or Clif shots taste better (they’re energy gels) or whether compression tights actually improve performance.
It has not been an easy two months (I’m not counting April and May, when I was very flaky). To make things even more difficult, I have not been able to have a glass of wine on any Friday night, one of life’s great pleasures. Saturday mornings are now reserved for long runs, and I was not going to risk a poor night’s sleep or fatigue by indulging in alcohol. Sigh, what has happened to me?
The upsides are intangible at this time. Despite the increasing mileage, I have lost zero pounds since starting my training so there has been no side benefit of weight loss. All I can hold on to is the satisfaction of pushing myself past new limits every week (for example, I ran 9 miles this past Saturday and did not pass out). Maybe some time in the future, I can become a true runner. But for now, this will have to do.